BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It's been on the minds of every high school athletic program in the country. Are we going to have high school football?
For the state of Mississippi, that would be a yes.
“We are extremely looking forward to starting up our fall seasons in our sports,” MHSAA executive director, Don Hinton, said. “If we’re able to follow this, we won’t affect our winter seasons at all, won’t affect our spring seasons at all and we just feel like it’s a really good plan.”
The MHSAA’s plan of action comes in the form of a two-week delay for fall sports that was announced Tuesday. Barring an extreme case of COVID-19 across the Magnolia State, there will be football in South Mississippi.
“It’s a little bit of a relief, a lot of joy,” Ocean Springs new head coach, Blake Pennock, told WLOX. “Just really proud of the MHSAA just kind of being able to step up. You know there’s obviously a ton of uncertainty.”
“Thankful for the decision that was made. I can’t get on TV and say I agree or disagree with it because they’ve done the research,” Stone High head coach, John Feaster, said.
“I’ll just trust their decision and I’ll just try to get my guys ready to play now.”
Like most sports in 2020, teams will play abbreviated regular seasons, nine or ten games depending on classification. With games now starting on what would've been week three on September fourth, the delay give squads extra time to prepare.
”We’re basically going to be doing what Mississippi did years ago when you only played about 10 games and then you went to the playoffs,” Biloxi head coach, Katlan French, said. “We play all of our non-division early and play all of our seven division games late in the schedule, so it doesn’t affect the outcome of how our division plays out.”
The question on every coaches mind is what happens if the virus spreads and key members of the team have to sit out for two weeks? The MHSAA say they will monitor the virus closely and rely on medical experts.
“We’ll get our direction from the heart department and through the governors office and hopefully be safe, be able to make our decisions based on what’s best for our students,” Hinton told local media at the MHSAA headquarters in Clinton Tuesday.
In the end, the MHSAA’s decision isn’t just great for the communities, but especially for the seniors who get to suit up one last time.
“My heart went out last spring for those kids in spring sports that weren’t able to complete their seasons. A lot of them waited a good part of their teen life to be able to play a senior season,” Pennock told WLOX.
“Coast schools for sure and around the state of Mississippi, these guys work hard and they really want this. I’m really happy for the state of Mississippi today and kind of being out there on the forefront and going ahead and playing football.”
WLOX was told that the idea of switching fall sports to the spring was not mentioned in Tuesday’s meeting. The MHSAA executive committee is set to meet again in the next few weeks.
For more information on the fall sports calendar for Mississippi, go to https://www.misshsaa.com/2020/07/14/executive-board-approves-proposal-for-fall-schedule/ .